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Explaining Regeneration Preceding Faith

 

There is a lot of debate about which comes first, regeneration or faith?  The Calvinist position is that regeneration must be in place before faith can be possible.  In order to explain this, let me introduce an analogy using a light bulb.  Also, when we speak of one preceding another, we are not talking about order in time, but order of necessity.  Let me explain.

In a light bulb, electricity must be in place in order for light to occur. But, it is not true that light must in place for electricity to occur. The light is dependent on the electricity, not the electricity on the light. Therefore, the electricity is logically first. That is, it must be necessarily present in order for the resultant light to appear.   However, the electricity is not temporally first because when the electricity is present, light is the necessary and simultaneous result.  When two things are simultaneous, one does not have temporal priority over another.  So, when the electricity is present, there is not a duration of time before light occurs.  It occurs simultaneously with the presence of the electricity.  This is the same with regeneration and faith.  Regeneration must precede faith not in a temporal sense, but in a necessary sense.  In must be in place in order for believing to occur, but it occurs simultaneously with regeneration.  So, logically, regeneration is first.  Temporally they are simultaneous.

Finally, when we say logical order we must clarify that it is not an order of temporality, but of logical necessity.

  • John 1:13, "who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
  • John 3:8, "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
  • John 6:63,65, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." 65 And He was saying, 'For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.'
  • Rom. 9:16, "So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy."
  • 1 John 5:1, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him."

 

The following condensed paragraph can be used for cut and paste purposes in chat rooms.

REGENERATION PRECEDES FAITH LOGICALLY, NOT TEMPORALLY.  In a light bulb, electricity must be in place in order for light to occur. But, it is not true that light must in place for electricity to occur. The light is dependent on the electricity, not the electricity on the light. Therefore, the electricity is logically first, but not temporally first because when the electricity is present, light is the necessary and simultaneous result. Likewise, regeneration must be in place in order for believing to occur. When regeneration is in place, faith is the necessary and simultaneous result. Finally, when we say logical order we must clarify that it is not an order of temporality, but of logical necessity.


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Copyright by Matthew J. Slick, B.A., M. Div., 2012
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